All Articles Tagged "fertility"
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone disorder common in women of reproductive age that can affect everything from our periods and weight, to fertility and mood. Chances are you know someone with PCOS or have it yourself, but if you don't know much about this condition, let us give you a brief rundown on the facts you need to know.
The scene from “Sex and the City” when Charlotte reflects on the effort she put into pregnancy prevention as a single woman–only to get married and learn that she has a 13 percent chance of conceiving– is an unfortunate reality that rings true for millions of women in the United States, according to the CDC. Historically, it has been fairly impossible to predict your odds of getting pregnant in the future; however, a new screening exam is changing that.
How it works:
All women are born with all of their eggs and they gradually lose them over time. Unfortunately, some women lose their eggs more rapidly than others, causing their ovaries to age prematurely.
“The number of eggs that are left in a woman’s ovaries at a given time defines her ovarian age,” said Dr. Norbert Gleicher, who developed the exam. “For 90 percent of women, their egg counts follow an expected curve as they age. But for 10 percent of women—independent of race, background, or what they eat or drink—their egg counts don’t follow that curve pattern, and their ovaries age prematurely.”
According to Dr. Gleicher, who serves as medical director and chief scientist of the Center for Human Reproduction, the screening is available to women ages 18 to 35 and in place to equip women experiencing POA with the knowledge needed to make decisions about the future.
“After treating infertility in women for decades and hearing them tell us time and time again that they wished they had known of the risk of POA so that they could have planned for a family sooner, we were determined to find a better way to proactively identify POA in young women,” said Dr. Gleicher. “This is the group of women our screening is addressing. Fertility centers like ours see an exploding patient population in this category, and since they usually present to us very late—in their mid to late 30s or 40s—there are limited options we can offer them. The best case is that they go into IVF quickly; the worst case is that they are unable to have biological children.”
Currently, testing costs $98 plus lab fees. It consists of a medical questionnaire, and blood tests that take three things into consideration:
1. “The FMR1 gene, which may regulate how a woman’s ovarian function changes over time.”
2. “Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which has a role in the maturation of eggs (if FSH levels are high that’s an indicator of declining ovarian reserves or how many eggs a woman has left).”
3. “Anti-muellerian hormone (AMH), another indicator of a woman’s ovarian reserves.”
While What’s My Fertility? is only licensed in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, and Virginia at the moment; you can still ask your ob-gyn to access the screening for you.
If you’re residing in one of the licensed states, you can begin the screening process by heading over to the What’s My Fertility? website and filling out a questionnaire. You will then be prompted to go to a local lab to have blood work performed.
“Our plan is to offer this program for free to the general ob-gyn community and primary care doctors in every state so that it may eventually become part of routine screening for young women,” said Dr. Gleicher. “If we can advance the first diagnosis of POA from the late 30s to the mid- to late 20s, there will be a huge outcome difference because women will have the chance to do something about it; they’ll be able to make informed decisions earlier in life that will help them avoid the emotional and hefty costs of later infertility treatments.”
When I pass the billboards that encourage women to become egg donors, the models appear so happy, bright-eyed and chipper, that I never really thought about all that goes into the actual process. Well, not until I came across an article titled “I Sold My Eggs for the Money,” recently published to Elle’s online platform.
Sarah Jean Alexander’s brutally honest account of her egg donation experience left me floored. I figured that the idea of donating your eggs for someone else to fertilize and raise as their own would take an emotional toll on any woman, but according to Alexander’s essay, the problems for her began well before the eggs were even retrieved.
After passing a series of medical exams and answering an extensive questionnaire, the 26-year-old was matched with a donee. They were both placed on birth control so that their cycles would align, which is when Alexander recalls noticing a change in her behavior.
We were both put on the same birth control to sync our cycles. While she didn’t know my name or what I looked liked, she knew I was a college graduate, average weight for my height, and half-Korean.
Around this time, I noticed a shift in my emotional balance. I started crying almost daily at work and picking fights with my boyfriend. I couldn’t tell if it was the hormonal birth control or if it was just me, in that moment. Then, after about a month on birth control and a particularly messy cry in the women’s bathroom, I quit my job, to my and my boss’s surprise. I told them my boyfriend had gotten a job in LA and that we were moving there next month. This was partly true—he and I did plan on moving to LA for new work, but not until the end of summer. The imminent payoff from donating my eggs led to a disregard for my finances.
After approximately two months on birth control, Alexander was to begin the process of injecting herself with IVF hormones, and things really took a dramatic turn.
Most of my girlfriends asked how I was feeling during the whole process, which I replied to relatively positively. I was achy and slow, but only mildly. I wasn’t allowed to drink, do drugs, exercise, or have sex. It was pretty OK, other than the feeling of being weighed down from the most central and sensitive part of myself.
Eventually, her relationship with her boyfriend of approximately two years unraveled, and he chose to move to Los Angeles without her. She partially blamed the split on her decision to harvest her eggs.
While it feels too easy to blame the “dissolution of Us” on the foreign hormones in my body, it would be reckless to ignore the fact that over the past six months I had focused a lot of my attention on my egg-farming endeavor. Though he was and remained completely supportive of my decision to donate throughout the entire process, he was going to move to LA alone, and I felt sad that the end of our relationship was marked by a Me who didn’t really feel like the outgoing and positive-minded Me that I was for most of the relationship.
After suffering through the physically painful aftermath of the egg retrieval process, Alexander was paid $8,000. While she somewhat struggled morally with handing over her eggs for thousands of dollars, she seems to be somewhat at peace with her decision.
As always, we’re interested in what you have to say. So, would you be willing to harvest your eggs in exchange for money?
by Vanessa Wasta
A genetically engineered cervical cancer vaccine performed well in a clinical trial, offering hope that many women can one day avoid surgery that short circuits the disease but threatens their ability to have a baby.
The vaccine eradicated high-grade precancerous cervical lesions in nearly half of women who received it, scientists report.
The goal of the trial was to find nonsurgical ways to treat precancerous lesions caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common form of sexually transmitted infection and can lead to cervical cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Every standard therapeutic option for women with these lesions destroys part of the cervix, which is particularly relevant for women of childbearing age, who may then be at risk for preterm birth due to a weakened cervix,” says Cornelia Trimble, professor of gynecology and obstetrics, oncology, and pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “A vaccine able to cure precancerous lesions could eventually be one way women can avoid surgery that is invasive and can also harm their fertility.”
The cervix is the lower part of a woman’s uterus. Despite dramatic progress in recent decades, about 12,000 women still develop cervical cancer in the United States each year, and about 4,000 die.
High-grade cervical lesions occur most often in women 40 or younger. Because the lesions can progress to cancer, they are today usually removed by surgery, freezing or laser treatment. The procedures remove the precancerous areas in about 80 percent of women. Less troublesome low-grade lesions usually are just monitored. They pose less of a cancer risk and usually regress on their own.
If a vaccine is eventually approved for use, the slow development of cervical cancer would leave an opening for patients to try it.
“It typically takes about 10 or more years for precancerous cells to become cancer, so there is a window of opportunity to intervene with nonsurgical approaches,” Trimble says.
The new study, published online in the journal Lancet, involved a vaccine developed by University of Pennsylvania scientist David Weiner that is engineered to teach immune system cells to recognize precancerous and cancerous cells.
Between 2011 and 2013, the scientists recruited 167 women, ages 18 to 55, with newly diagnosed, high-grade precancerous cervical lesions. The women were randomly assigned to receive either three doses of the vaccine over a 12-week period or saline injections. Of 114 who received at least one vaccine dose, 48.2 percent had regression of their precancerous lesions, meaning they disappeared or converted to low-grade lesions, compared with 30 percent who received saline. The regression rate was closer to 50 percent in 107 women who received all three vaccine doses.
“In many of these women, the vaccine not only made their lesions disappear, but it also cleared the virus from their cervix,” Trimble says. “In most unvaccinated patients whose lesions went away, the virus was still present, and many still had low-grade lesions.”
Clearance of the virus is a “significant bonus,” she says, because lingering HPV is a major risk factor for recurrence of cervical lesions.
In biopsy samples, patients whose lesions completely regressed after vaccination had more immune T-cells in the tissue. “It’s important that T-cells capable of recognizing HPV stay in the cervix and fight off any recurrence of the infection,” Trimble says. She is also studying other types of vaccines to prevent high-grade cervical lesions from developing into cancer.
From Black Health Matters
Family planning is completely unpredictable. Sometimes couples try for years and then give up and randomly get pregnant afterwards. And then you have couples that try for the first time and get pregnant right away. Getting pregnant depends on so many factors but being in tune and knowing your body’s schedule can help. In addition to knowing your body, try to keep a healthy lifestyle that includes a stress free environment with a diet heavy in fruits, veggies, and water. There are tons of fertility apps that exist to help women determine how to maximize their ability to get pregnant. Check out a few…
1. Kindara Fertility Tracker
Description: Get pregnant fast, track your periods, or avoid pregnancy with the app Bloomberg TV calls “The Future of Reproductive Health”. Kindara has helped over 500,000 women take charge of their fertility.
*Calendar and fertility chart that accurately predict fertile days, ovulation and menstruation
*Beautiful fertility chart with portrait and landscape display
*Track basal body temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius
*Enter cervical fluid type for each day
*Indicate peak cervical fluid and period days
*Track sex and determine high fertility days with ovulation prediction
*Enter menstruation data to track your period
*Track ovulation predictor kit results, cervical changes, PMS symptoms, spotting, pregnancy tests, alternative birth control used, cervix height/firmness and other data right on your chart
*Daily journal entries to track moods, doctor visits, etc
*Extensive Knowledge Base
*Understand more about your body during such times as coming off of hormonal birth control, experiencing ovulation, PCOS, perimenopause and menopause
*Practice the method described in Taking Charge of Your Fertility (TCOYF)
2. Pink Pad
Description: Pink Pad is a period and fertility tracker and social health network for women.
*Women’s Health Network
*Health & Fertility Shop
*Predictive tools to help plan day-to-day activities and vacations.
*Ovulation calculator to plan for pregnancy.
*Track moods, symptoms, weight, temperature and other menstrual related progress.
*Create custom symptoms
*Charts to see visual progress
.3 Woman Calendar
Description: Woman Calendar is a powerful Fertility Awareness tool for those who try to conceive, avoid pregnancy, schedule special occasions, or make plans around fertility cycles. It can also be used to track menstrual periods to monitor a woman’s physical conditions and schedule activities accordingly.
* Keep a log of biological data such as menstrual periods, basal body temperature, ovulation, and weight; record physical conditions such as cramps, PMS, and sexual activities; and design and track your very own data
* Plot your daily basal body temperature chart and weight chart over a menstrual cycle or over a month
* Use the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) method to forecast fertility cycles
* Easily navigate through, organize, preview, and edit your records in a calendar interface
* Export saved data from a selected range of dates in CSV (spreadsheet format) via email, to backup data, work with other desktop and online applications, or print out a hard copy for your next doctor’s appointment
* Password protection to keep your personal records safe
* Write down your daily thoughts, and share your journals via email
Many couples may not think too much about sperm until something goes wrong–like fertility struggles or sperm allergies (yup, those are real). But sperm is full of surprises and complicated things you should know about. Here are 15 little-known facts about his seed.
Fertility is increasingly becoming a concern for women of all ages, and though Black women aren't absent from the conversation altogether, we tend to be late to the party, notes "Married to Medicine's" Dr. Jackie Walters. We recently spoke with the OBYGN and asked her to give us five things we need to understand about Black women and fertility and she broke it all the way down for us, from our tendency to have fertility issues due to our weight and lack of an active lifestyle, to our hesitancy to follow through with doctor's appointments. Check out the video above and get educated.
Has baby fever plummeted to an all-time low among American women? Yes and no. According to Vox, it depends on which measure of fertility you’re looking at.
You see, there are three indicators of fertility used by analysts: The general fertility rate (GTF), completed fertility, and the total fertility rate (TFR). If you’re looking at the GTF, which looks at the annual rate that women (between the ages of 15 and 44) are presently having kids, the answer is a resounding “yes” — fertility is at an all-time low.
A new government study, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), discovers that 2013 had only 62.5 births for every 1,000 women of child-bearing years, the fewest number of kids ever. Compare that 62.5 figure to 120 births in the 1960s. Later, there was a drastic plummet to 70 births in the 1970s — from then on, that figure remained relatively stagnant for three decades until it dipped down to its lowest point two years ago.
But that’s the GTF. If you’re looking at the completed fertility rate, which calculates the number of kids a woman (between the age of 40 and 44) had in her lifetime, the lowest was in 2006 — there were just 1.86 births per mother.
The last indicator, the TFR, is more speculative — this measure looks at the “hypothetical number [of kids women] would likely have based upon present fertility patterns,” Vox adds. That estimate hit its lowest back in 1976.
If you subscribe to GTF, you might be wondering why female fertility rates are declining. For one, according to Medical Daily, more women are taking control of their bodies thanks to modern technology.
“More women are choosing the IUD and implants, which are great birth control options for women who want the best possible pregnancy prevention and aren’t yet ready to start a family,” said NCHS’ Any Braunum, chief of the reproductive statistics branch.
Between 2002 and 2013, according to the NCHS, usage of long-term, but reversible birth control like IUDs rose from 1.2 percent to 7.2 percent, HealthDay reports.
Others point to the economic difficulties as the reason behind the decline in births. “It’s common for people to have fewer kids when a recession hits, because they worry that they will lose their job or their home, or just not be able to afford another mouth to feed,” Today wrote.
It’s clear that Americans still want children (a 2013 Gallup Poll finds 90 percent desire kids), but more women are delaying giving birth until they feel secure enough to have their little bundle of joy on their own terms.
2015 is shaping up to be the year of the celebrity baby. But not all celebrity babies pop up out of the blue. Age, genes and some surprising factors caused these celebrity women to struggle to get pregnant.
Becoming a mother is a true gift that not every woman is given the opportunity to experience.
Most women dream of the joys of having their first child and embarking on the journey we call motherhood. However, the journey to motherhood is not always so clear cut. Many women struggle with infertility issues, some lose their children in the womb and some even suffer the tragedy of infant mortality just after experiencing to joy of giving life. Each of these tragedies has its own trauma, and the moment when the joy of motherhood might be taken away a woman feels powerless.
Becoming pregnant, staying pregnant and delivering a healthy child are life challenges unique to women. When a woman is faced with fertility issues, a miscarriage or loss after birth, motherhood instantly becomes unattainable. She doesn’t know how to feel, how to react or even how to cope. In an instant she feels alone with her thoughts and feelings. Her first response is What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me? Indeed, so many women suffer from these pangs in silence. Why? Is it because they feel ashamed as if they felt inadequate? Or is it because they feel that no one can truly understand their pain? I believe that it is both of these reasons.
Before I had my son, after I had my daughter, I had a miscarriage. Suddenly feelings of inadequacy, sadness, and pain became my reality. I wasn’t sure how to deal with what had happen nor did I understand why. I wanted to just crawl up and shut out the world. I received flowers, condolences and support from my husband but I still felt that no one really understood what I was going through nor did I want to have to explain it or share my pain with anyone. Suddenly I felt so alone. As time passed, I began to slowly accept what had happened and eventually I was able to move on and continue with a semblance of normalcy. During this whole transition, I never sought guidance or support to help me cope with what had happened. I just assumed it was an experience that no woman really talked about. Looking back, I wish I was more willing to seek support and guidance because in reality, unfortunately, there are many women who share this tragic experience. There are many different resources out there that can aid in giving us the support we need.
Babycenter.com, parenting.com, and meetup.com, for example, all provide great resources for locating local support groups. I also encourage using Facebook for women who have experienced such trauma to start their own support groups. This is a great way to get advice from women from all around the world.
It’s time to break the silence. All aspects of motherhood should be embraced even the disappointments and heartbreaks because it’s what makes us better women and better mothers. We need to draw strength from the heartache and share our stories because it’s that very moment that we can begin to heal, move on and seek to once again chart that glorious journey toward Motherhood. The journey is not always straight and sure. There will always be twists and turns that we are not going to expect, but when we can reach out to one another we can lift each other up and the silence can become a resounding affirmation.